HAVANA TIMES — Three hundred rabbis asked President Barack Obama today to negotiate with the Cuban authorities for the “immediate release” of Alan Gross, the US agent sentenced in Cuba to 15 years in prison for endangering the island’s security.
“Alan went to Cuba on behalf of the US government. His immediate release and return to the United States should be a priority for our nation,” said the rabbis, who were concerned that “Gross has been rotting for five years ago in a Cuban prison.”
The Rabbis urged Obama to “take all steps necessary to ensure a quick end to the ongoing nightmare that Alan and his family live.”
The letter was made public days after Gross’s lawyer Scott Gilbert made it known that his client had fallen into deep depression and was refusing to receive most visitors.
Gross’s family fears Alan’s life is in danger due to the “deterioration of his physical and emotional health.”
Gilbert claimed that Gross “has lost most of the vision in his right eye, can barely walk and has stopped exercising.”
The lawyer says the emotional health of Gross also declined sharply, following the death of his mother, on June 18.
His wife, Judy Gross said her last visit to her husband was “traumatic” given his strong physical deterioration and the fact that he bid farewell to her and their daughter.
“I implore the governments of the United States and Cuba do what is human and let Alan come home,” asked Judy Gross.
Alan Gross, 65, was arrested in December 2009 in Havana after bringing to the island telecommunications equipment prohibited by the Cuban authorities, allegedly to give to political opponents of the Castro regime. A court found him guilty and sentenced him to 15 years in prison on charges of encouraging “acts against the integrity” of the state.
Gross worked for Development Alternatives Inc., a USAID contractor in numerous hot spots around the globe such as Iraq and Afghanistan. He said that the equipment was designed only to facilitate Internet access to the small Jewish community in Cuba. Gross had made several trips to Cuba working undercover before he was detained by the authorities.
Havana has repeatedly reiterated its offer to negotiate a possible swap of Gross for the three remaining “Cuban Five” prisoners, held since 1998 in the US on charges of espionage. Washington refuses thus far to link the cases.
The Cuban Five were sentenced to long prison terms; although two have returned to the island after having served out their sentences.